What Do You Need To Start Gathering For Your Attorney?

Sep 5, 2022 | Family


Your Initial To-Do List

Divorce involves deconstructing your entire joint life with your spouse, including your joint finances and assets. The goal is always to work with your ex to agree on the best way to do this, but regardless, this is a good place to start:


Establish separate bank (checking and savings) accounts for yourself. It doesn’t really matter how much is in those accounts, but that you have the account. This step is about creating your own financial network and foundation. Save some cash for a rainy day. The more you manage to shovel away, the more secure you will fee. It is not uncommon in divorce for accounts to be frozen, credit to be shut off and streams of income to dry up. Close any joint credit cards and establish credit in your own name. If your spouse is not cooperating, you can always tell the credit card company that the card should be frozen from any further transactions due to legal proceedings. You should regularly monitor your credit report to ensure that your spouse does not obtain a new card or apply for a joint loan.


You want to make sure any and all joint investment accounts are frozen and that nothing may be withdrawn from these accounts or used as security for a loan. Get current statements of all you and your spouse’s retirement accounts as well as a copy of the plan description. Hold off on setting up new investment accounts if you can to ensure nothing is considered a marital asset.


I know we all hope for the best in people, but we have had cases where an ex spouse is monitoring email and other communications because they were once granted access to these accounts. Sometimes, they monitor or even interfere with mail. To prevent this type of intrusion and interference, establish a new email address, secure a PO box and consider getting a new phone. Make sure to change all pin numbers for personal bank accounts, change your passwords online for bank accounts, social media accounts, and existing email accounts. Make sure you get any duplicate copies of keys or change your locks (after discussing it with your attorney).


For some people, divorce has a dramatic effect on their productivity at work. This is why it is important to discuss what is going on with your boss or supervisor. Explain that you may have to miss work sometimes and work on a plan now to make up the time you may lose in the future. If you don’t have a job, you need to think about what you are going to do for income. Most cases do not result in enough child support and alimony to pay all living expenses. If you have been out of the workforce for a long time, start by speaking to a career counselor in your community, update your resume, references and job prospects. Dive in as soon as you can and start applying for jobs that interest you.


Once a divorce is final, all joint benefits you enjoy will terminate. If you rely on your spouse’s health coverage, start investigating now what options are available and what you can afford.


Your attorney will need to substantiate your income, assets, and debts so that they can effectively navigate the financial issues in your case. Use the below checklist to help you gather the necessary documents you will need:

Six months of paystubs (most recent)   
Most recent utility bills (phone, electric, gas, etc.)   
Receipts for repairs, replacements (or anticipated)   
Last statement for any auto loans   
Titles to any and all vehicles   
Auto repair and/or maintenance (past or future)   
Medical/dental/optical bills/quotes/statements   
Children’s school fees: registration, books, etc.   
Last statement of any credit cards   
Copy of savings account statement   
Most recent checking account statement   
Certificates of Deposit   
Most recent Money Market Account Statements   
Stocks, bonds, investment account statements   
Real estate documents: closing package, deed, mortgage statements, etc.   
Any documents for secondary homes/rentals   
Any documents for any vacant lots   
Copies of any and all life insurance policies   
Most recent retirement statements   
Last two state and federal tax returns   
Documents for any litigation against you or your spouse   

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